Policy H/SH: Specialist housing and homes for older people

What will this policy do?

This policy will guide proposals for specialist housing (within both Use Classes C2 and C3) designed to support a variety of groups such as older people, disabled people, people with alcohol or drug dependency, those requiring refuge from harassment and violence, and others who may, for a variety of reasons, be excluded from the local community. Student accommodation is covered in Policy H/SA: Student Accommodation. The need to help older people downsize or stay within their community through 'whole life housing' approaches are also addressed in Policy H/HM: Housing mix and Policy H/SS: Residential space standards and accessible homes.

Proposed policy direction

Provision of specialist housing will be required as part of the housing mix of new developments, particularly at new settlements and within urban extensions, to create balanced and mixed communities and to meet the identified need for specialist housing. The policy will support the development of housing for older people and other groups in need of specialist housing. It is important to recognise that those in need of specialist housing are not a homogenous group and the policy will need to support a broad range of specialist housing reflecting local needs.

Proposals for new specialist housing will be considered via a criteria based policy similar to that in the adopted Cambridge 2018, but with the policy applying to the whole of .  The criteria will ensure that new specialist housing is provided where there is a need, in suitably accessible locations, and without resulting in an excessive concentration of such housing.

Any specialist accommodation provided either as self-contained units or bedspaces for older people will contribute towards delivering the overall housing requirement for Greater Cambridge, but any specialist housing for other groups such as children and young people, or disabled people, will not contribute.

The provision of some forms of specialist housing, such as general housing for older people, will be delivered through the requirements for all new homes to be accessible and adaptable homes as set out in M4(2) standard (see H/SS: Residential space standards and accessible homes).

Why is this policy needed?

National planning policy requires the size, type and tenure of homes needed for different groups in the community to be assessed and that the results of that assessment be reflected in planning policies. Specialist housing is designed so that support can be provided to its occupants where required (and often to others in the wider community) while promoting independent living.

Providing specialist accommodation for older people can help people to live independently whilst staying within their local community. It can also provide opportunities for people to downsize if they choose to do so.

The therefore needs to set out how the Councils will deliver sufficient specialist housing to meet the identified need and how proposals for new specialist housing will be considered.

What consultation have we done on this issue?

Responses to the First Conversation 2020 consultation highlighted the need to create balanced and integrated communities by providing a mix of housing types, sizes and tenures that reflect the findings of the Councils evidence of housing needs of specific groups. This included support for including specialist housing within new developments to enable residents to move through different forms of housing while still staying in their local area. Respondents also commented that specific allocations should be made for specialist housing, that are close to existing homes, public transport, and medical and community facilities.

What alternatives did we consider?

1. No policy - Not considered a reasonable alternative as the Councils consider that a criteria based policy is needed as the considerations for specialist housing are different to other types of housing development.

2. To not require provision for specialist housing at new settlements and within urban extensions - Not considered a reasonable alternative as the Councils need to set out how they will deliver sufficient specialist housing to meet the identified need, and these new developments should seek to deliver balanced and mixed communities.

Supporting evidence studies and topic papers

  • Greater Cambridge : Topic paper 7: Homes
  • Greater Cambridge Housing Strategy 2019-2023: Homes for Our Future and Annexes 1-8 (Cambridge City Council and South Cambridgeshire District Council, April 2019)
  • Cambridgeshire and West Suffolk Housing Needs of Specific Groups Study (2021)
  • Housing Needs of Specific Groups Study – Addendum for (2021)

Existing policies in adopted 2018 Local Plans

Cambridge 2018

  • Policy 47: Specialist housing

South Cambridgeshire Local Plan 2018 - None

Tell us what you think

Our consultation for this phase is now closed.